Mexico City is a popular destination for travellers seeking a buzzing atmosphere, beautiful architecture, and plenty of great food. Amongst some of the most well-known sights of La Casa Azul, Plaza des las Tres Culturas and the Church of San Francisco are a few hidden gems that no traveller should miss off their itinerary. Want to know where you can find the best out-of-the-ordinary locations in Mexico City? Read on for three spots just waiting to be explored.
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The Island of the Dolls
If you’re a fan of dark tourism, La Isla de las Muñecas is a sight not to be missed. Here, a mid-20th-century resident of the island once witnessed the unfortunate drowning of a young girl. In response to the tragic event, and in believing that the ghost of the child was trapped in the surrounding canals, the resident, Don Julian Santana Barrera, began to grow his collection of children’s dolls – displaying them across the island, with the intention of warding off evil spirits. Barrera’s family has since opened the site up to tourists, and as a result, it has become a popular destination for those seeking obscure sights on their travels. Granted, it’s not in Mexico City proper, but it’s close enough that we’ve included it on this list. Most visitors choose to take a day tour of the Xochimilco canals via a ferry ride from Embarcadero Cuemanco or Embarcadero Fernando Celada, which tends to take about 3-4 hours – perfect for a spooky afternoon excursion.
The National Palace
The exterior of Mexico City’s National Palace is a hotspot for tourists, but few people know that you can actually take a free, guided tour inside the building. This makes the site the perfect location if you want a cultural experience in the city, minus the chaotic crowds. Inside the palace, you’ll get to view the Diego Rivera murals in all of their splendour. The murals are considered one of the main attractions at the palace and illustrate the history and culture of Mexico throughout history – from Aztec civilization to Rivera’s vision for the future of Mexico. Besides this impressive art, you’ll also get to view some gorgeous architecture and learn all about the significance of the National Palace today. While it’s best to pre-book your tour at the nearby ticket office, the palace tends to hold a few spaces for walk-ins should you want to take a spontaneous trip as you pass through town.
San Juan Market
Mexico City is home to many bustling, vibrant market squares filled with artisan crafts and trinkets and traditional culinary delights to try. San Juan Market is one of the oldest markets in the city and well worth a visit if you’re hoping to avoid the chaos of the popular La Merced. San Juan market is largely gastronomical, offering plenty of authentic foods to sample. Some of the most unusual include ostrich and crocodile meat dishes, as well as tarantula and scorpion snacks – ideal for adventurous travellers after a spot of lunch and a great photo opportunity for the vast majority of passers-through. You can find San Juan right in the center of Mexico City, spread across two large market buildings. It runs from 7am to 6pm every day, so there’s plenty of opportunity to visit throughout your trip.
How to Find the Best Hidden Gems in Mexico City
Feeling inspired by these less-frequented but plenty of fascinating cultural gems? There’s no limit to the secret spots that you can uncover in Mexico City. For an authentic and adventurous experience, make sure to do plenty of research and seek advice from the locals wherever you can – this way, you’re sure to experience a trip to Mexico unlike any other.
*This article has been contributed to Owl Over The World.
**Featured photo is by Carlos Aguilar.